Over the counter supplements

Why you need a health consultation more than over-the-counter (OTC) supplements…

Herbal medicine and health supplements have recently become commercially mass produced and widely available. Some people see this as a useful means of self-treating and feel empowered to bypass a health professional. Here are 9 reasons why this is not a good idea, and seeing a qualified medical herbalist is a far more effective strategy:

1. When you google your health symptoms and learn that a particular herb ‘may’ help, you are getting an opinion, not scientifically validated facts. It may (or may not) be what you need but it’s a very random hit-and-miss approach. A trained medical herbalist will know and have access to the latest scientific data on the topic.

2. Even if herb X is indeed the best one for your symptoms it may be contraindicated, especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, taking other medications, or have some other, maybe undiagnosed, health condition. St John’s Wort is a good example of this. Many people take it when they feel a bit down, hoping it will cheer them up a bit. It won’t! It’s contraindicated with many other medications and may exacerbate other problems, or reduce or increase the effectiveness of other drugs, and should only be carefully prescribed by someone who knows what they’re doing. Your qualified herbalist can advise on all this, and which of the many potentially useful and powerful herbs are actually safe for you to take.

3. Dosages vary. If you peruse the range of OTC herbal and nutritional supplements available on the shelves in the supermarket or health store you can easily get confused! How can you know what dosage of which tablets is optimal for you – your age, your size, your condition, your general state of health, your genetic makeup, your environment, your diet? Staff in a health store can offer some guidance but without a prior consultation they don’t know you or the intricacies of your physical, mental or emotional health, and there’s no help at all in the supermarket.

4. As this article explains, many of the OTC supplements contain few or none of the ingredients on the label, and often many other ingredients not on the label, especially those from big chain stores. So self-prescribing requires not just looking up which herb might help you but also researching the sources of your supply. An evidence-based herbalist will have a reputable, well-sourced supply of herbs and supplements that actually are what they claim to be, and do what they claim to do.

5. It’s expensive! Buying ineffective supplements is a complete waste of money, at the very least! At worst it could also do you harm. Seeing a herbalist is an investment which focuses medical expertise and good quality herbal medicines onto you – your health, your needs, your situation, and your goals. A medical herbalist will take all your health factors into account and create a treatment plan that’s specifically for you, because there is no-one else like you, with the exact same circumstances. What worked for your sister or your neighbour may not work for you. A herbal consultation is your opportunity to receive individually targeted, effective, personalised, ongoing health care.

6. When people take ineffective treatments that don’t work, or worse, have negative effects, they tend to assume that herbal medicine in general doesn’t work. Taking untargeted herbs is not just bad for you, it’s bad for the reputation of herbal medicine itself, and the livelihoods of well-trained medical herbalists. The only people who benefit are the dishonest corporations that sell these useless products to gullible customers.

7. Treating symptoms alone is rarely an effective lon-term strategy. Finding and treating the cause is a far better approach. There may be many possible causes for your symptoms and a medical herbalist will narrow it down to the most likely and treat that. Imagine your cat has pooed on your living room carpet; you could choose to treat it with a can of air freshener, essential oils burning in a beautiful oil burner, and a clothes peg on your nose. But the problem remains until you remove the poo, clean the carpet, and find a way to stop the cat from doing it again. This is what realistic natural health care is about; treat the cause, not just the symptoms, and reduce the risk of recurrence. Prevention is always better than a cure.

8. Life is short. The sooner the cause is found and the problem dealt with the sooner you can regain control over your life and start living it joyfully. You know the problem isn’t going to go away on its own, and that if you keep on doing what you’ve always done you’ll always get what you’ve always got! Buying self-prescribed supplements in the supermarket isn’t a realistic solution. If you have serious health concerns you need to take them seriously, and have a consultation with someone who will also take you seriously and guide you in the right direction to good health.

9. Every health problem brings baggage with it. At the very least it adds stress and anxiety to your life. It can temporarily or permanently affect your independence, your freedom, your comfort, your sense of security, your earning potential, your sleep, your appetite, your sex life, your mobility, your family, and your future. Long-term chronic ill health has many potential comorbidities including depression, pain, fear, obesity, addictions, relationship difficulties, etc, which can all aggravate the initial problem in a vicious downhill spiral. You need someone supportive and understanding to talk to about all of this. Someone caring, neutral, knowledgeable and available, who will know what to do.

Make an appointment today. I can help you find and treat the cause of your ill health and get you back on the road to wellness.